Everyone with registered learning disability to be made Covid vaccine priority
- Credit: JPUH
An additional 150,000 people with a learning disability are to be prioritised for a coronavirus vaccine, it has been confirmed.
Everyone in England who has a registered disability is now eligible for a jab after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued fresh guidance.
The JCVI has advised the government to add all patients on the register to the priority list.
Thousands of adults with disabilities in the UK, including many with Down's Syndrome, have already been offered vaccines as part of priority group four.
That particular cohort comprised patients deemed extremely clinically vulnerable.
And those with a "severe or profound" learning disability are in priority group six, for whom inoculations began last week.
But now, following a period of intense public pressure - including from BBC Radio 2 presenter, Jo Whiley - all those on the learning disability register are set to be invited alongside the current cohort.
Rebecca Crossley, a learning disability and autism liaison nurse at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH), called the news "absolutely brilliant".
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"This is going to give families a lot of relief," said Miss Crossley.
"It is going to really reduce the stress they currently have over what happens if their loved ones contract Covid.
"I did know it was coming given the public pressure from people like Jo Whiley. There has been such momentum on social media."
Ms Whiley had previously questioned why she was offered a vaccine before her sister, Frances, who suffers from the rare genetic syndrome Cri du Chat.
Frances, 53, subsequently contracted coronavirus following an outbreak at her care home in Northamptonshire.
She was finally offered a jab over the weekend, but her DJ sister told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show it was "too late" as she was already "fighting for her life" in hospital.
Frances has since "rallied" and, having heard the government's latest announcement, Ms Whiley tweeted on Wednesday to say she was "crying with joy".
She added: "For all those with a learning disability who have lost their lives and for those who thought they’d been forgotten. We do care and we will protect you."